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A simple way to determine who to vote for.

Republicans, since 1995, have held at least one House of Congress for 18 years, both Houses of Congress for 12 years, the White House for 8 years, at least one House of Congress and White House for 6 years, both Houses of Congress and the White House for 4 years. There have been two years in that span in which the Republicans held no House in Washington.

If you want a change in Washington, vote for Democrats.

A Realization

I can't think of an election in my lifetime in which the sausage analogy of politics is more apt.

As the Internet has proliferated, unfiltered views of our social institutions have become more prevelant. In the parlance of the analogy, never have we been more aware of the sausage being made. This has led to people who were previously unaware of the distastefulness of the making of the sausage to become quite disgusted with the process.

One major party chose between two expert sausage makers. One who promised that the sausage would be of higher quality, more plentiful, cost less for those who need it most. The other is one of the best sausage makers we've seen in our lifetimes. She promised many of the things he opponent did, and even more so once she was named her party's candidate for sausage maker in chief.

The other party chose between mediocre sausage makers, an expert sausage maker and several people who had never made sausage in their lives. That party decided the sausage making was so distasteful the only way to make it in any way acceptable is to select someone who not only had never made sausage, but holds the very concept of making sausage in utter contempt. This should suprise no one, considering the stance of this party for more than the last three and a half decades has been that the making of the sausage is the problem.

However, sausage is how things are run. Suasage protects us from our enemies. Sausage gets us from one end of our country to the other. Sausage ensures that our society functions.

So one party said to a nation sick of watching sausage be made, "Please, accept our sausage maker. She will make the best sausage we can possibly have. It won't be pretty. It won't be pleasant. It will be effective, and it will make the lives of the vast majority of Americans better."

The other party said, "Let's try letting someone who has no idea what he's doing make the sausage. What's the worst that can happen?"
And the Oplympics are back on. I don't know if anyone remembers that I do this, but here's my weighted ranking of medal winners so far. Gold=4, Silver=2, Bronze=1. With two days of competition in the books, the weighting is already being felt with Italy leapfrogging Australia; Russia getting ahead of Hungary; and Japan in front of Hungary, Great Britain and Sweden. The United States is in the lead whether you use total medals, gold medal count (with ties broken by silver total or bronze total if necessary) or my weighted score. I'm always torn about how to handle ties in my weighted system. Is accomplishing the score with the fewest medals exemplary since that means they're the more valuable medals, or is it better to have the most medals in total. At this point, this is really only an issue between Japan and Russia (yes, I know about Uzbekistan with its two bronzes and the eight nations, including the host nation, with one silver). Right now I'm going with the fewer, more valuable medals wins. Unless anyone can convince me to do it the other way.





United States (USA) 3 5 4 12
China (CHN) 3 2 3 8
Australia (AUS) 3 0 3 6
Italy (ITA) 2 3 2 7
South Korea (KOR) 2 2 1 5
Hungary (HUN) 2 0 0 2
Russia (RUS) 1 2 2 5
Great Britain (GBR) 1 1 0 2
Sweden (SWE) 1 1 0 2
Japan (JPN) 1 0 6 7
Chinese Taipei (TPE) 1 0 1 2
Thailand (THA) 1 0 1 2
Argentina (ARG) 1 0 0 1
Belgium (BEL) 1 0 0 1
Kosovo (KOS) 1 0 0 1
Netherlands (NED) 1 0 0 1
Vietnam (VIE) 1 0 0 1
Canada (CAN) 0 1 1 2
Kazakhstan (KAZ) 0 1 1 2
Brazil (BRA)* 0 1 0 1
Denmark (DEN) 0 1 0 1
France (FRA) 0 1 0 1
Indonesia (INA) 0 1 0 1
New Zealand (NZL) 0 1 0 1
North Korea (PRK) 0 1 0 1
Philippines (PHI) 0 1 0 1
South Africa (RSA) 0 1 0 1
Uzbekistan (UZB) 0 0 2 2
Greece (GRE) 0 0 1 1
Poland (POL) 0 0 1 1
Spain (ESP) 0 0 1 1
Again on the subject of false equivalances, if the Democratic base is as disappointed in it's candidate as the Republican leadership is of theirs, where's all the resignation letters from Democratic Party members leaving in a huff because Hillary is so awful a human being?

Something to think about

There's a lot of false equivalences in media coverage of politics today.

One of those going on right now is putting unfortunate things Hillary Clinton has said up against the unfortunate things Donald Trump has said. There are lots of reasons the equivalences are false, but one difference inspired a clever turn of phrase for me.

There is ample video record of bother Trump and Clinton saying things their supporters would rather they hadn't. The difference is Clinton said these things five hairstyles ago, while Trump said them yesterday.

Which got me thinking. Political men tend to look substantially the same: wear the same suits, have the same haircut, etc., throughout their careers. They don't wear jewelry or obvious makeup, so that doesn't change over time to match current fashion either. A woman 20 years into her political career basically looks like an entirely person person.

Does this give women an unfair advantage in that the video record of some of their past peccadillos doesn't actually strike a chord with the public because the person they're looking at in those pictures isn't the same person they see today?

Jul. 31st, 2016

Now that the conventions are over, the general election begins in earnest. A lot of people are saying that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote. I want to say unequivocally and without reservation the only wasted vote is the vote that isn't cast.
When it comes to civic involvement, there isn't a person in our nation who cannot do more to make our society better. However, there is literally nothing less you can do than not voting.
Of two weeks of convention speeches, one moment perfectly captured my political philosophy, "Don't boo. Vote".
On the other hand, we're back at our quadrennial traditional "this time we're relevant" pantomime from third party candidates and their supporters.
Let me put it succinctly, I don't believe you.
And because it's me, less succinctly...
Third parties are the soccer of US politics. Every four years dedicated fans tell us this is the year that soccer/third parties are going to break through and become a force in American sports/politics. And nothing happens. Four years later we're hearing all the same arguments. The only difference is soccer is actually making progress.
Third parties are the French Resistance of US Politics. If everyone who says they support third parties actually worked for third parties and voted for third parties, third parties office holders would litter the landscape.
Right now, the Libertarian party holds 145 elected offices in the United State. The Green Party claims "over 100" office holders on its webpage, but only has 75 names. Out of about ~520,000 elected offices in the United States .04% are held by third party members.
But that's not really the whole story. According to their website, most of the Libertarian office holders, 102, are in "non-partisan offices", which means candidates have no party affiliation on the ballot, and generally campaign as individuals rather than as members of a party. Only 43 of their office holders got there as a Libertarian (and not even that's true, as we'll see later). The Greens do not have a similar breakdown, and I'm not going to go through the trouble of checking every elected Green official, but a brief look at the offices held would indicate the ratio is pretty close to 1:0.
But that's not really the whole story either. Of this .04% of all US office holders, four are members of State Legislatures: a State Senator in Utah, a member each of Nevada and New Hampshire's lower houses and a member of Nebraska's unique unicameral legislature. So now we're at .0007% of third party elected officials serve at the state level. Everyone else is at the municipal or county level. They're on school boards, water districts, city councils, plan commisions, etc.
But that's not really the whole story either. In Nebraska, the state legislature is elected in non partisan elections. The other three State Legislature members were elected, not as third party candidates, but as members of the Republican Party. They changed their party affiliations to Libertarian in the wake of the nomination of Donald Trump as Republican candidate for the presidency.
That's precisely 0 current office holders in state level offices who have been elected as third party candidates.
And here's the big problem. You people are doing nothing about it. I live in a very politically active neihborhood. We have candidates and their campaigns walking around here regularly. It's also an intensely Republican precinct. I don't know of a Democratic candidate who's taken this precinct at any level in the last 20 years. Yet, Democratic candidates who don't have a hope of winning their primary, much less the general election, show up on our porch to talk to us about their campaign. I've never seen a third party candidate or campaign on our streets.
The reason not to vote for third party presidential candidates is not because they can't win (they can't) but because they can't govern. They have absolutely no coalition to lead on any level. As far as I can tell, the single deliberative body with the most members of a third party in the entire country is the Crystal City, Minnesota City Council which has three Libertarian members, out of seven total members. Like most city councils in this country, their elections are nonpartisan.
Here's when I'll start believing you.
Get 1% of elected officials in the United States to claim third party membership. That's 5,200 people. And I'm carefully not saying elected as third party candidates to include the majority of elected officials in this country who are elected in non partisan elections. Also that includes partisan elected officials who change their allegiance once elected, an essential part of bringing a new party to power.
Take a US Congressional delegation. In Alaska, Deleware, Montana, Wyoming, Vermont and North and South Dakota that means electing two people. For those who need the statistics help, one out of 50 is 2% (and considering you can accomplish it with two elected officials, that's .4% of Congress).
Take a house at the state level. By "house" I mean a Senate, House or Governor's mansion. That's one out of 148 (remember that weird Nebraska legislature which is nonpartisan, so no party can control it), or .7% of the available targets.
Take a partisan city council of a major city (there aren't many of those, and I think your chances in Chicago are... distant).
Do something else. Anything else. Do something that isn't running for president and whining about why no one takes you seriously.
Despite all the brouhaha to the contrary, politics in the United States is not top down. It's bottom up. Nothing changes nationally until the states start to change. Nothing changes at the state level until the municipalities change. And nothing changes at the municipal level until a few dedicated people get off their asses and do something about it.
There's one thing you're right about. Elections in the US are not binary decisions. Unfortunately, you don't quite get what they are. Elections are singular decisions. There is only one President of the United States at a time. You are only reprsented by one member of the House at a time. You don't even get to vote for one of your Senators every two years. You get a choice two out of every three election. Every election chooses one candidate to do the work you need done, whether at the local, state or federal level.
That no third party currently has managed to elect a single seat at the table means that they are irrelevant no matter who is President or how well they do in Presidential elections.
Again, I'm not telling you what you should do. I'm telling you the results you're going to have to get to make me take you seriously. Perhaps that's not something you're actually interested in. That's ok. My feelings aren't hurt. But the fact that up to this point breaching 10% in any election more prominent than city council has been heralded as fantastic success for third party candidates, maybe my attitude represents a greater proportion of the electorate than you can afford to ignore.


I've finally figured out how to sum up Trump, "treasonous scam artist who can't pay his bills."

Jul. 21st, 2016

Watching the shitstorm that is the Republican National Convention I have a singular observation about the entirety of the Trump campaign.

You get what you pay for.

There is a reason so much of politics is governed by conventional wisdom. We've had 228 years of a political system in place. Every election we tweak the norms a bit, sometimes more than other. But it's an unbroken line of people getting elected mostly by doing most of the things everyone else has done, perhaps peppering in an innovative idea or two.

The Trump campaign core ideology is that none of that matters. And we're seeing it does, in fact, matter.

The two most important Trump surrogates in the opening days of the convention were his wife and son. Bill and Chelsea Clinton will be speaking at the Democratic National Convention next week. I'm figuring the people involved in writing those speeches are pulling in high six figures for their work (which will certainly include more than merely the convention speeches).

Donald Trump loaned his wife not a political speech writer, but his executive assistant to help her with a speech.

I don't know who F.H. Buckley is (to be fair, speech writers operate out of the public spotlight), but he was so bereft of ideas he inserted language he'd previously published into Donald Trump Jr's speech. The problem isn't plagiarism. The problem is shoddy craftsmanship. A competent speech writer would never reuse his own published language in the most important speech his client has ever made.

And what's worse, is in the case of F.H. Buckley, the Trump campaign probably did pay top dollar. Trump is notoriously incapable of understanding the difference between expensive and quality.
If you call any state won by a party in the previous Presidential election by at least 55% "safe" for that party in the coming election, the Democratic nominee will start with 179 electoral votes and the Republican nominee will start with 125.

If you include state that were won by 10 percentage points or more, but in which the party did not take 55% of the votes (states in which alternative candidates made significant showings) the Democratic "safe" total comes to 191 and the Republican total would be 148

That leaves 199 electoral votes "up for grabs."

Of those votes, Florida (29), Pennsylvania (20) and Ohio (18) are the promised land. If Republicans flip only those three, they will win the next election, assuming they don't lose any states. And North Carolina (15) rests on a razor margin for the Republicans. Georgia (16) is up for grabs.

The primaries are irrelevant. The Republican party has built a firewall behind which they can't lose, but in doing so they've also built a firewall the can't win beyond.

Are there scenarios in which the Republicans gain the White House in 2016? Absolutely. However, if nothing changes between now and then, the candidates are irrelevant. The Democrats will keep the White House.

It could happen

During a conversation over the holiday, Presidential politics came up.

One of the possible scenarios we explored doesn't appear to have shown up on anyone's radar so far.

If Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination who's going to be her choice for VP? Why not Joe Biden? He's breathed new life into the position. He seems good at it. It offers him a level of power without the risks of the Presidency.

Is the country ready for its first two president Vice President?

The courage of their convictions

I will take anti-PC crusaders seriously when the image they use to spread their message is a zombie skull-fucking the corpse of Ronald Reagan while wiping it's ass with an American flag.

Now that's politically incorrect.

Why a zombie you ask? 'Cause zombies are cool.

"Aside from his dashing good looks..."

Is this something they'd say about an African American? This feels a little problematic to me. Anyone else bothered?

Over the last couple of days two online trends have caught my attention.

The first is the Margaret Atwood quote, "Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them."

The other is #notallmen

The proximity of the two got me thinking.

Women are supposed to police themselves and each other to make sure that when talking about violence, aggression and harassment that they make it clear that they're "not talking about all men here".

However, when men are talking about the inequities women subject them to, no one polices their language to make clear that not all women are laughing at them. In fact, in online spaces where that kind of discussion is engaged in, that kind of generalization is expected and encouraged.

That men who have a stake in downplaying the dangers women encounter in society are not playing fair is not a surprise. That those of us who consider ourselves more evolved and aware may not have made this connection or contemplated the implications of it is more disturbing to me.


I'll be ok... Eventually

I fucking hate the grocery store. On top of everything there conspiring to kill me, it seems like whenever my shit decides it's time to get lost, that's where I am.

Today's Olympic Results

One of the nice things about a Black Sea Olympic Games is that the final results from the day come in about 1:30 pm, CST.

Today we start to see movement from the weighted scoring. Russia and the Czech Republic both moved up a place, though for the Czech Republic because of the three way tie ahead of them, now behind them, it turns into a three place jump.

The Dutch continue to dominate the Adler Arena Speed Skating Oval. The French lept onto the boar with a gold/bronze take down of Biathlon's Men 12.5km Pursuit of all things. The Americans had a disappointing day in two of their homegrown events, Short Track Speed Skating and Freestyle Skiing. However, we at least picked up a bronze in the Women's Super Combined to stay ahead of the Russians.







1 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/cf/Flag_of_Canada.svg/22px-Flag_of_Canada.svg.png Canada (CAN) 3 3 1 7 19
2 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/20/Flag_of_the_Netherlands.svg/22px-Flag_of_the_Netherlands.svg.png Netherlands (NED) 3 2 2 7 18
3 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d9/Flag_of_Norway.svg/22px-Flag_of_Norway.svg.png Norway (NOR) 2 1 4 7 14
4 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/a4/Flag_of_the_United_States.svg/22px-Flag_of_the_United_States.svg.png United States (USA) 2 0 3 5 11
5 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/f/f3/Flag_of_Russia.svg/22px-Flag_of_Russia.svg.png Russia (RUS)* 1 2 3 6 11
6 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/b/ba/Flag_of_Germany.svg/22px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png Germany (GER) 2 0 0 2 8
7 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/41/Flag_of_Austria.svg/22px-Flag_of_Austria.svg.png Austria (AUT) 1 2 0 3 8
8 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/c3/Flag_of_France.svg/22px-Flag_of_France.svg.png France (FRA) 1 0 1 2 5
9 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cb/Flag_of_the_Czech_Republic.svg/22px-Flag_of_the_Czech_Republic.svg.png Czech Republic (CZE) 0 2 1 3 5
10 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/1/12/Flag_of_Poland.svg/22px-Flag_of_Poland.svg.png Poland (POL) 1 0 0 1 4
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e6/Flag_of_Slovakia.svg/22px-Flag_of_Slovakia.svg.png Slovakia (SVK) 1 0 0 1 4
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f3/Flag_of_Switzerland.svg/20px-Flag_of_Switzerland.svg.png Switzerland (SUI) 1 0 0 1 4
13 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/4/4c/Flag_of_Sweden.svg/22px-Flag_of_Sweden.svg.png Sweden (SWE) 0 2 0 2 4
14 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/03/Flag_of_Italy.svg/22px-Flag_of_Italy.svg.png Italy (ITA) 0 1 1 2 3
15 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fa/Flag_of_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China.svg/22px-Flag_of_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China.svg.png China (CHN) 0 1 0 1 2
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bc/Flag_of_Finland.svg/22px-Flag_of_Finland.svg.png Finland (FIN) 0 1 0 1 2
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f0/Flag_of_Slovenia.svg/22px-Flag_of_Slovenia.svg.png Slovenia (SLO) 0 1 0 1 2
18 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/ae/Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg/22px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg.png Great Britain (GBR) 0 0 1 1 1
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/49/Flag_of_Ukraine.svg/22px-Flag_of_Ukraine.svg.png Ukraine (UKR) 0 0 1 1 1
Total 17 17 17 51

It's that time again

So far, the weighted rankings follow the total and medal color rankings most often used. We'll see how long that lasts. I'm particularly tickled by Russia's last place, though I suppose lots of countries don't have any at this point.







1 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d9/Flag_of_Norway.svg/22px-Flag_of_Norway.svg.png Norway (NOR) 2 1 3 6 13
2 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/20/Flag_of_the_Netherlands.svg/22px-Flag_of_the_Netherlands.svg.png Netherlands (NED) 2 1 1 4 11
3 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/a4/Flag_of_the_United_States.svg/22px-Flag_of_the_United_States.svg.png United States (USA) 2 0 1 3 9
4 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/c/cf/Flag_of_Canada.svg/22px-Flag_of_Canada.svg.png Canada (CAN) 1 1 1 3 7
5 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/41/Flag_of_Austria.svg/22px-Flag_of_Austria.svg.png Austria (AUT) 1 1 0 2 6
6 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f3/Flag_of_Switzerland.svg/20px-Flag_of_Switzerland.svg.png Switzerland (SUI) 1 0 0 1 4
7 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/4/4c/Flag_of_Sweden.svg/22px-Flag_of_Sweden.svg.png Sweden (SWE) 0 2 0 2 4
8 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/cb/Flag_of_the_Czech_Republic.svg/22px-Flag_of_the_Czech_Republic.svg.png Czech Republic (CZE) 0 1 1 2 3
9 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bc/Flag_of_Finland.svg/22px-Flag_of_Finland.svg.png Finland (FIN) 0 1 0 1 2
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/03/Flag_of_Italy.svg/22px-Flag_of_Italy.svg.png Italy (ITA) 0 1 0 1 2
11 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/ae/Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg/22px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg.png Great Britain (GBR) 0 0 1 1 1
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/f/f3/Flag_of_Russia.svg/22px-Flag_of_Russia.svg.png Russia (RUS)* 0 0 1 1 1
Total 9 9 9 27

Note to Self

If I'm ever in a position to appear on a television news panel and part of my rhetorical strategy is to be condescending and rude to the other panelists, make sure I know their biographies, accomplishments and positions first.

CNN had a panel on the War on Christmas (as the Daily Show put it, "Shit Got Weird Edition"). In response to two of the panelists who were discussing the great damage European (read "White") hegemony of Christianity has done in this world, the third panelist was stupid enough to say, "I'd hate Christmas morning in your house!"

Which got the response, "I'm Jewish, so..." what he didn't have to say to finish that sentence was, you've just proven my point.


It's that time of year again

I just realized SADD has hit me pretty hard this year.

However, it snuck up on me by not manifesting as it usually does.

I've been really lethargic lately and unable to overcome my own inertia. It was struggling to get up, showered, dressed and out the door in time to make a 1pm appointment in Arlington that made me realize I have a bit of problem right now. Fortunately, I did make it and didn't completely screw up the appointment.

I'm not sure if knowing is really half the battle here, but I guess time is on my side. If every other year of my life is any indication, this will pass.

Conversations out of context

Dad: Your mother is least dangerous when she's violent.
Me: Yeah, but she's most dangerous when she's least violent.

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